Two from the Library – one yeah, one meh…

One of the great things about borrowing books from the library is that you can take a chance on books – which is what I did recently with a whole load of poetry and novels. The only problem then, is that you might not enjoy them all. Here are thoughts on two of them – Read More

An evening with Kate Clanchy and her new book

Some Kids I Taught and What They Taught Me by Kate Clanchy Some of you may know Kate Clanchy’s work from her super comic novel Meeting the English (see here) or her earlier memoir Antigona and Me (see here), about a refugee who became her cleaner and nanny. She has also published books of poetry Read More

More Poetry – Joe Dunthorne & Heidi Williamson

O Positive by Joe Dunthorne No sooner had I started reading my first novel by Joe Dunthorne, the rather fab The Adulterants (reviewed here), than I discovered he had a book of poetry coming out, and I was keen to see more. O Positive with its blood-red lettering on the front cover, is divided into four sections, one for Read More

Blogtour – Under the Rock by Benjamin Myers

Ever since Rebecca reviewed this book in hardback for Shiny (see here), I’ve wanted to read it, (and Myers’s prize-winning novel Gallows Pole which I already had on my shelf). Now out in paperback, in Under the Rock, subtitled ‘Stories carved from the land’, Myers boldly combines nature writing with history, psycho-geography, photography and poetry Read More

Dealing with Metrophobia

The Point of Poetry by Joe Nutt You won’t find ‘metrophobia’ in the OED yet, but plenty of other places will tell you it means the fear of poetry – not underground railways! Now, I’ve always appreciated an occasional poem: I read the ones in the TLS each week; I can still remember lots of Read More

Review Catch-up: Heller, Murakami & Levy

Notes on a Scandal by Zoë Heller I recently re-read this for Book Group, and was reminded by what a fine novel it is. The affair between a naive art teacher and a fifteen-year-old pupil is a tough subject, given that Heller makes her protagonist quite sympathetic in a way, but the real villain of Read More

20 Books of Summer #10 & 11 – Levy & Barry

Swimming Home by Deborah Levy This was the book that brought Deborah Levy to wider attention. Her fourth novel, it was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2012. Last year I read her latest novel, Hot Milk which was also shortlisted for the Man Booker, (reviewed here), so I was prepared for a challenging Read More

The World of Ephemera: Before Z Cars…

Time for some more ephemera, Found in amongst a pile of old theatre programmes, this edition of the school mag of M.C.B. – Methodist College Belfast from June 1949. My mum went there, and must have been in the sixth form when this edition was published. Sadly, despite being a classics scholar and singer she Read More

Poetry I wish I’d pledged to…

You Took the Last Bus Home by Brian Bilston I wish I’d spotted this book on Unbound before it was published – I’d definitely have pledged to it, having seen a few of Bilston’s poems on facebook. So, I bought it for myself anyway and what a treat it is for a rare reader of Read More

‘Quoth the raven, ‘Nevermore’.’ …

The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe in a spectacular pop-up presentation by David Pelham and Christopher Wormell If ever there was a poem that was made for reading aloud, it’s The Raven, Poe’s 1845 masterpiece of rhyme, metre and repetition. (I just adore the rhymes – ‘that is’ and ‘lattice’  in the 6th verse must Read More

The art of haiku and unrequited love…

The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman by Denis Thériault Translated by Liedewy Hawke I‘ve been meaning to read this bittersweet novella ever since Hesperus Press published it in England last autumn. Read now, it made a perfect palate-cleanser between some heavier reads for the new issue of Shiny New Books (out on Thursday 8th Read More

More from the pre-blog archives…

Republished into its original place in my blog’s timeline from my lost posts archive Challenging books For a wet bank holiday Monday, I’m revisiting my archives of the capsule book reviews I wrote for myself pre-blog. (For more of these see here.) Having concentrated on 10/10 books in previous posts, I chose some books that I Read More

Sheer Poetry – a remarkable read

Cloud Busting by Malorie Blackman This is unlike any other children’s story I have ever read. A series of 26 short poems, telling the story of Sam and Davey, and all about bullying and friendship, secrets and lies, and the terrible thing that happened one day … Told entirely in Sam’s voice, the poems are Read More

The Sonnets by Warwick Collins

This is an ambitious novel. The author has taken Shakespeare’s sonnets and created a novel around them, selecting those that fit this narrative – 32 in all, reproduced in full within the text. Although I love Shakespeare’s plays, I’ve never read the sonnets, just knowing a couple of the famous quotes. This novel was a Read More